The One-Solution Philosophy of Corporate Identity

Post by: Damin Sterling

Almost three decades ago, a young Steve Jobs hired identity designer Paul Rand to create the logo for his new company, Next. When Jobs asked the seasoned designer if he could get a few options for his new logo, Rand famously quipped, “No, I will solve your problem for you, and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people.”

So, BLVR made the decision to change its process for presenting logos to align with Rand’s daring philosophy. Here’s why:

Less is More
The adage says, “Decisiveness is like a razor-sharp knife that cuts cleanly and quickly, while indecision is like a dull knife that tears and rips as it cuts.” The same can be said of design. While there appears to be fewer options with Rand’s approach, the opposite is actually true.  Designers explore dozens of options (if not more). Then we self edit. We cull. We sharpen. We cut and slice until we have the strongest logo that solves your brand’s problem.

The Big Picture
In the past, it was commonplace to present five to seven logo concepts with multiple variations. Each concept included subtle differences that the keenest eye would miss. In hindsight, we learned that our clients were missing the vision and instead focusing on the minute details. The time previously spent dialing in 30 logos is now dedicated to building out the overall brand vision. Presenting the logo in context—mocked up on real-life applications (e.g., business cards, merchandise, etc.)—allows us to focus on the big picture. It shows us how the brand will live in the real world, rather than getting in the weeds with the right shade of blue or making the type one point bigger. This methodology yields a logo that has been tried and tested and can now be turned into an identity system, applicable to brand deliverables.

Be Flexible
A major component that stems from this process is the creation of a flexible identity system, which includes logo variations for different uses, brand typefaces, colors, and other brand elements. Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all corporate logo, when end users were forced to shoehorn their logo into every application, whether it worked or not. Now, we are forward-thinking, anticipating every possible use of the logo, and designing accordingly.

Since implementation, our team has seen more than a 90 percent client approval rate for corporate identity projects on the first round. While there are many components that contribute toward effective corporate identity design and presentation, offering fewer options, looking at the big picture, and being flexible should be fundamental parts of your strategy. Do you have any further tips to add?


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